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Keywords:

  • cholera toxin subunit B;
  • corticospinal neuron;
  • plasticity;
  • sensorimotor cortex

Abstract

Following brain damage, especially in juvenile animals, large-scale reorganization is known to occur in the remaining brain structures to compensate for functional deficits. In rats with neonatal hemidecortication, corticospinal fibers originating from the undamaged side of the sensorimotor cortex issue collateral sprouts to the ipsilateral spinal gray matter that mediate cortical excitation to ipsilateral forelimb motoneurons and compensate for the deficit in forelimb movements. The present study was designed to investigate the origins of the ipsilateral corticospinal projection in neonatally hemidecorticated rats. Corticospinal neurons (CSNs) were labeled in adults by injecting retrograde neural tracers, cholera toxin subunit B with different fluorescent probes, into either side of the cervical spinal gray matter. In the undamaged cortex, double-labeled neurons were rarely found. CSNs with contralateral projections (contra-CSNs) and those with ipsilateral projections (ipsi-CSNs) were distributed both in the rostral forelimb motor area (RFA) and the caudal forelimb motor area (CFA). However, there was a difference in the distributions of the ipsi-CSNs between the two forelimb areas. Whereas the distribution of the ipsi-CSNs largely overlapped with that of the contra-CSNs in the RFA, the ipsi-CSNs tended to be segregated from the contra-CSNs in the CFA. The results suggested that the RFA and the CFA contribute to the compensatory process in different ways.